Aug 9, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Dallas schools to require masks in defiance of Gov. Abbott's order

A sign outside a classroom reminds students to wear masks at an elementary school in Leander, Texas, U.S., on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020.

A sign outside a classroom reminds students to wear masks at an elementary school in Texas, September 2020. Photo: Sergio Flores/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Dallas Independent School District announced Monday that it will require students and teachers to wear masks at its campuses to prevent the spread of "the highly contagious Delta variant."

Why it matters: Dallas ISD is the first district in the state to defy Gov. Greg Abbott's (R) order barring schools from issuing mask mandates, with district officials saying it is necessary to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

  • The announcement follows the latest guidance issued by the CDC recommending universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students and visitors to K-12 schools this incoming school year, regardless of vaccination status.
  • Abbott initially balked at the recommendation, saying the time for mandating masks is over and "now is the time for personal responsibility."

Driving the news: Dallas County is classified as "high risk" for community transmission, according to the CDC.

  • Dallas County health officials have reported that hospitalizations are climbing at the fastest rate since the pandemic began, among all age groups, Dallas ISD said.

What they're saying: "We’re in a situation that has gotten significantly more urgent," superintendent Michael Hinojosa said in a press conference Monday.

  • “Requiring masks for staff and students while on district property is a reasonable and necessary safety protocol to protect against the spread of COVID-19 and the new Delta variant," said Ben Mackey, Dallas ISD's board president, per the Dallas Morning News.
  • The district added that "students under 12 are not eligible for a vaccine, however, school attendance is mandatory, and virtual learning is not an option at this time."
  • The Dallas ISD mandate is set to take effect on Tuesday.
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